Wine has long been hailed as a health drink, with numerous studies touting its benefits. From reducing the risk of heart disease to improving cognitive function, wine seems to be a panacea for all sorts of health issues. But is wine really the miracle elixir it’s made out to be? Here, we’ll take a closer look at the evidence behind the claims and see if wine truly lives up to its reputation.
What Makes Wine So Special?
At its core, wine is simply fermented grapes. But what sets it apart from other alcoholic beverages is its rich profile of compounds called polyphenols. These are naturally occurring chemicals found in plants that have been shown to have numerous health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and preventing cancer.
The two most well-known types of polyphenols in red wine are resveratrol and quercetin. Resveratrol has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, while quercetin may help protect against certain types of cancer.
Of course, not all wines are created equal when it comes to these compounds. Red wines tend to have higher levels than white wines due to differences in grape processing. And even within red wines, some varieties – such as Cabernet Sauvignon – contain more polyphenols than others.
The Case For Wine
With all this talk about polyphenols and their potential benefits, it’s no wonder that many people view wine as a veritable health tonic. Here are some of the most commonly cited reasons why:
It Can Help Prevent Heart Disease
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, so any intervention that could reduce its incidence would be welcome news indeed. Several studies have suggested that moderate consumption of red wine can help lower your risk for heart disease by increasing “good” HDL cholesterol and reducing inflammation in your blood vessels.
Keep in mind, however, that “moderate” is the key word here – excessive drinking can actually increase your risk for heart disease and other health problems.
It May Boost Brain Function
Ever notice how a glass of wine seems to make you feel more relaxed and creative? That’s not just your imagination – research has shown that moderate alcohol consumption can improve cognitive function in older adults. A study published in the journal Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment found that people who drank moderate amounts of red wine scored higher on tests of mental agility compared to non-drinkers.
But again, moderation is key here – excessive drinking can have the opposite effect and lead to impaired brain function.
It Can Help You Live Longer
This one might sound too good to be true, but several studies have suggested that moderate wine consumption could help extend your lifespan. One study found that people who drank between one and three glasses of wine per day had a lower risk of dying from any cause than both heavy drinkers and teetotalers.
Of course, correlation does not equal causation, so take these findings with a grain of salt. But it’s certainly an interesting association worth exploring further.
The Case Against Wine
While there are certainly some compelling arguments in favor of drinking wine for its health benefits, there are also some potential downsides to consider:
It Can Increase Your Risk For Certain Cancers
As we mentioned earlier, some types of polyphenols found in red wine may actually help protect against cancer. However, a large body of research has linked alcohol intake with an increased risk for certain types of cancer– notably breast cancer, regardless oft he type alcoholic beverage being ingested.
Therefore, if avoiding cancer is top priority for you – especially if you are already at elevated risk – then nixing or minimizing your alcohol intaken would be ideal.
It’s Not Suitable For Everyone
It’s common knowledge that alcohol consumption can be dangerous to pregnant women. Wine is no exception: Drinking wine during pregnancy has been linked to fetal alcohol syndrome, a condition in which children have developmental and cognitive problems due to their mother’s drinking.
Furthermore, even for people who aren’t pregnant, certain health conditions – such as liver disease or pancreatitis – make it unwise or downright dangerous to consume alcohol at all.
It Can Be Addictive
Alcohol is technically a drug, and like any other drug, it can be addictive for some people. If you’ve ever struggled with addiction in the past or have a family history of alcoholism, it may not be wise to start drinking wine regularly–even when just one glass each night.
So what’s the final verdict on whether wine really is a health drink? Is it worth incorporating into your diet?
The answer isn’t black-and-white; there are pros and cons to consider here. On one hand, moderate consumption of red wine does seem to confer some benefits—particularly when it comes reducing heart disease risk. . But those benefits may come with risks: Cancer risk, dependency issues, etc. Plus, let’s not forget the empty calories containedin alcohol especially if from high sugar content wines that leads weight gain an obesity.
As always, moderation when consuming alcoholic beverages is essential as excessive indulgence even in so called “super healthy drinks” can turn out being counterproductive.
Q: What counts as “moderate” wine consumption?
A: Moderation varies between genders, but generally defined as up to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women . One standard drink equals about 5 U. S ounces of typical red/ white/rose wines containing around 12% alcohol.
Q: What’s the difference between red and white wine when it comes to health benefits?
A: The primary difference is the polyphenol content. Red wine contains more of these beneficial compounds than white wine because of differences in grape processing; but then again its amounts depend on factors such as altitude, territory conditions, humidity. However, while resveratrol is found in both red and white wines but in higher amounts in the former, quercetin is largely limited to red varietals.
Q: Can I drink any amount of wine if it’s “organic?”
A : Nope! Organic certification applies here only to how some wines are produced without synthetic chemical usage. It has no bearing whatsoever on any potential health risks or benefits from consuming the product. At least not yet.
1) USDHHS[MJ6] ‘Dietary Guidelines for Americans’, 2015-2020